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Corruption in Romania - statistics & facts

Corruption is a widespread problem in Romania which developed during the transition from a communist to a democratic regime. The years following the Romanian Revolution in 1989 were characterized by an institutional and legislative vacuum which caused serious dysfunctions, not only in the criminal justice system but also at a political level. Nowadays, corruption is seen as part of the business culture in Romania, since people still find it acceptable to either do a favor, or to give a gift or money to obtain something from the public administration. Apart from the political and institutional environment, corruption problems have also been constantly reported in the healthcare system.

Corruption crimes

According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, as of 2019, Romania was the second most corrupted country in the European Union after Bulgaria, with a CPI score of 44 points. The highest number of corruption crimes brought before Romanian courts was recorded in 2016, totaling over 600 offenses. Since then, the number of most corruption offenses has dropped slightly, except for the crime of bribery which increased from 2018 to 2019. Moreover, in 2016, according to the National Anti-Corruption Division’s activity report in Romania, more than one thousand people were sent to trial for corruption offenses, including three ministers, 17 parliamentarians, 47 mayors, 16 magistrates and 21 CEOs. The amount of damages recovered was worth approximately 226 million euros. By 2019, the number of defendants sent to trial for corruption offenses dropped to 813, while the number of people imprisoned for corruption offenses in 2019 remained over 200.

Fight against corruption

A notable moment in Romania’s fight against corruption, which was also echoed in the European and international press, were the anti-corruption protests from 2017 to 2019. On January 31, 2017, around midnight, Romania’s Minister of Justice announced through the media that the Romanian government adopted a governmental ordinance on pardoning certain corruption crimes and amending the New Criminal Code by decriminalizing the corruption crime of abuse of power/ abuse in service.
Consequently, on February 5, 2017, the press estimated that around 300,000 people were protesting in Bucharest and over 600,000 in the entire country against alleged plans to grant prison pardons and decriminalize some corruption offenses. These were described as the largest protests in Romania since the revolution in 1989. The outcome was the repeal of the governmental ordinance and a year later, the conviction of the President of the Social Democratic Party, who was also President of the Chamber of Deputies in the Romanian Parliament for abuse of power, after a trial of three years.

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